C Maryland 7'1" 255 lbs 6/16/1993
One of the most improved players in college basketball, Maryland center Alex Len boasts an impressive combination of size, skill and athletic ability that have NBA scouts talking about his potential. The Ukraine native played a small role last year on the team but his potential was obvious. Len went back and trained this off-season, putting on 20lbs and showing off a more versatile game thus far. While his current team situation is holding him back, the NBA potential has shown through.
Standing a little over 7’0” with a good wingspan, good mobility and good agility (he grew up as a gymnast in Ukraine), Len has the physical profile to be an effective NBA center on both ends. He needs to continue adding weight to his frame; he is up around 250 now after getting to Maryland in the low 200’s. He is not an explosive center but has athleticism that will surprise (see reverse dunk vs. Duke).
On offense, it’s a struggle to watch Maryland as a team and Len as a prospect. The offense is a guard-centered offense that doesn’t do much to involve Len, who is arguably their best player. Maryland’s guards are also poor distributors and the lack of spacing on the floor shrinks the floor on Len. Despite that, Len also can improve on establishing position and demanding the ball. But nonetheless, Len has shown skills that make him projectable to the NBA level. He shows good touch around the basket, has the ability to hit a mid-range shot and has shown some good moves on the low-block. Len will need to continue and mold his offensive game but he has come a long-way since he first year. His mid-range shot needs to become more efficient and he needs to develop a more advanced low-post game (his is fairly rudimentary as of now) but he has shown the skills to do so.
As a pick-and-roll player, Len does possess a good amount of ability because he can roll to the rim and can also pick-and-pop. Considering his size and position, not too many starting centers can do that in the NBA. While Len can be counted on to create shots for himself in the low-post at times, he is still learning to become a better passer in the low-post. He still struggles to pass out of double teams and needs to show better patience on the block.
What makes Len an intriguing prospect is his all-around ability as a center. His developing offensive game has improved but his defensive ability is what earned him minutes early on in his career. He has the size, length and mobility to do most things defensively at the NBA level.
He continues to improve his strength but already shows good ability to anchor in the low-post. He also shows the mobility to step out on screens and be effective when he is on the perimeter. His strength right now lies in rebounding and being a presence around the rim. He is a strong rebounder and a good shot-blocker. While not showing explosive leaping ability, he shows good timing and his length helps in accruing blocked shots. His defensive fundamentals look to be there but he can improve in his understanding in this area.
As with most big men, Len will need to keep an eye on his foul rate as he enters the NBA. He fouled at a high rate as a freshman in limited minutes but has been able to cut down his foul rate this year despite playing more minutes and having a more involved role.
Len has a very clean background and is a high character prospect, which will make GMs more comfortable in taking him. GMs will be very encouraged with the development of both his game and body in his short college career. He has proven to be a hard worker and it has paid off for him. Len is also a very intense player on the court as well as possessing a good motor.
For Len, his play has been very up-and-down this year that can be largely be attributed to the situation he is in. But there is still some who would like to see Len assert himself and make a bigger impact on the game despite that.
He has the size, skill and athletic skills that will make NBA teams very intrigued. His potential and ability to contribute on both ends will make him a surefire top-10 pick and a possible top-5 pick. The era of 7-foot big men looks to be gone but Len has a chance to capitalize on that if he can show GMs what he offers at the next level.